Windbreaks as Koala Habitat

Lismore City Council

This project aims to document of the habitat value and use of windbreaks by koalas by undertaking field work on a range of macadamia farms in locations across the Lismore local government area. This opportunity suits students enrolled in SCI00211 and SCI83012.

Working on this project you will make a difference in Key Impact Area: Environment; Sustainable Development Goal: Life on Land (SDG 15).

Details

Availability: Approved

Time required: 12 hours per week

Duration: 5 weeks

Location:
43 Oliver avenue
Goonellabah
NSW
Australia

Requires face to face contact: No

Related unit codes: SCI00211, SCI83012

Overview

Aims

During the 1980’s and 90’s in Lismore LGA , windbreaks were planted on private properties engaged in horticulture, particularly macadamia farms. Many of these windbreaks are dominated by Eucalyptus species which are preferred food trees for koalas such as Eucalyptus microcorys. Koalas which are listed as vulnerable to extinction in NSW are now commonly recorded using these macadamia farm Eucalypt windbreaks. The persistence of koalas within the region is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. The windbreaks may now provide important koala habitat within the Lismore LGA and represent vital corridors across agricultural lands to facilitate dispersal and gene flow.

Due to a perceived impact on farm productivity, many of the windbreaks on macadamia farms are now under pressure of removal by property owners. Strategies are being developed to look at alternatives to windbreak removal such as reducing tree height. This project aims to document of the habitat value and use of windbreaks by koalas by undertaking field work on a range of macadamia farms in locations across the LGA. This project will inform a possible next stage which will be the establishment of trial sites to look at the benefits and costs of coppicing rather than removing windbreak trees to reduce the effect of removal on koalas whilst satisfying the needs of the property owners.

Outcomes

The project will establish baseline data on koala occupancy of windbreaks and potential sites for a coppicing trial.

Needs to be addressed

This project will address a need for data on the use and importance of windbreaks as habitat for Koalas in the Lismore local government area. It will provide a baseline that will enable trial sites to be established.

Benefits to students

Students will gain experience in field work and landholder liaison and work with an agricultural industry group and local government natural resource managers.

Requirements

Southern Cross University

Assistance with project design.
Student supervision
Access to a vehicle

Partner

Assistance with site identification and initial landholder consultation and industry liaison with the Australian Macadamia Society. Some meetings and support for student to gain understanding of how this research project fits in with the natural resource management aims and activities of Lismore City Council Environmental Strategies team.